OTTAWA, ON, June 27, 2022 /CNW/ - The Government of Canada is taking action to further improve the safety and security of Canada's rail system, especially in light of the impacts of climate change and severe weather on railway operations.
Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, announced two new rail safety measures. One focuses on railway-related fire prevention, while the other improves the resiliency of Canada's railway infrastructure against climate change impacts, such as flooding, landslides, and fire risks.
To help prevent fires on railway property and in nearby communities, Transport Canada has created new rules for the fire season (April 1 to October 31) that require railway companies to:
Reduce train speeds and conduct additional track inspections when temperatures are high to reduce the risk of a derailment caused by track conditions;
Inspect locomotive exhaust systems more frequently to ensure they are free of any deposits that could pose a fire risk; and,
Implement a fire risk mitigation plan.
The fire risk mitigation plan is robust and requires companies to monitor fire risk levels, manage vegetation, reduce activities that could spark fires, and respond to detected fires. Companies must also engage local governments and Indigenous communities for input on their plans.
The second measure is the announcement of the Rail Climate Change Adaptation Program. Its objective is to support research, development, and implementation of innovative technologies, tools, and approaches to better understand and address the increasing risks and impacts of climate change on Canada's rail sector.
The Rail Climate Change Adaptation Program will provide up to $2.2M in contribution funding to Canadian railways to cost-share research. Project submissions from eligible railways will be accepted until September 28, 2022 (noon EST).
"In a period where we are seeing the impacts of climate change and extreme weather in Canada, it's important that we do everything we can to mitigate future risks. I am confident that our new rules will have a positive impact by protecting our railways against wildfires in the context of extreme weather. At the same time, the new Rail Climate Change Adaption Program will help railways assess and adopt next generation tools to mitigate adverse issues caused by climate change."
The Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport
The new fire mitigation rules make permanent the measures contained in Ministerial Order 21‑06, issued by the Minister of Transport Canada in July 2021, to reduce the risk wildfires in the context of extreme weather.
These new rules complement recent revisions to the Rules Respecting Track Safety, which strengthen track inspection and maintenance requirements.
Rules and regulations have the same force of law, under the Railway Safety Act, and a railway company can be subject to monetary penalties or prosecution for non-compliance to a rule.
Eligible recipients for the Rail Climate Change Adaption Program include federally or provincially regulated railway companies incorporated in Canada that support freight movement and supply chains, including Class I railways and most Class II/III railways (i.e., shortlines).
Transport Canada monitors railway companies for compliance with rules, regulations, and standards made under the Railway Safety Act through risk-based audits and safety inspections.
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SOURCE Transport Canada
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